El Centro’s Juneteenth Celebration highlights history of abolition of slavery

Sam Couchman, mayor of Brawley, teaches an audience member how Civil War rifles were loaded. Couchman was a participant during the Juneteenth celebration held Saturday in El Centro’s community center.

EL CENTRO — One of the oldest known commemorations to honor the end of slavery, Juneteenth was celebrated Saturday with an evening of history and re-enactments at El Centro’s Community Center.

In modern times, Juneteenth honors African American freedom and highlights education and achievement. It is often a day, a week, and in some areas, a month that is marked with celebrating, guest speakers and family gatherings.

“The last time we had this celebration was in 2004,” said event organizer Marlene Thompson. “However, this is a worldwide event and in 2003, Juneteenth was designated a national day of freedom, and we will use this event to unify the African American community.”

Starting off the celebration, attendees took to their feet for the singling of the National Black Anthem, followed by silent prayer time.

Then guest speaker Tanesia Belvin took to the podium to teach the audience the importance of making changes in the community. Belvin is a military wife, mother, and entrepreneur. Belvin also has a degree from Liberty University in psychology with an emphasis in Christian Counseling. Her presentation spoke of leading by example to encourage those in the community to set a good example by their own actions.

Following Belvin’s presentation, a video portraying the Battle of Antietam was displayed. The Battle of Antietam was the culmination of the Maryland Campaign of 1862, the first invasion of the North by Confederate General Robert E. Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia.

Closing out the video, Brawley Mayor Sam Couchman performed a reenactment of the Emancipation Proclamation. Dressed in classic Union Army attire, Couchman voiced the words from the historical document. Prior to the re-enactment, Couchman gave a brief history lesson on the guns and wardrobes that soldiers used during the Civil War. Attendees even had the opportunity to see how these weapons were loaded and the battle styles used during that time.

Closing out the event, the audience watched a video on the history of America, and why Juneteenth is the longest standing celebration of the abolition of slavery.